Interpretations of ‘We the People’

  • 25th January, 2023

(MainsGS2:Separation of powers between various organs dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions.)


  • The controversy over the very meaning of ‘We the People’, after the speech made by the Vice-President of India and Chairman, Rajya Sabha, Jagdeep Dhankhar was erupted as he viewed that ‘We the People’ essentially gives primacy to elected members of Parliament and the State legislatures.

Need conventions:

  • The Vice-President of India implied that the separation of powers does not equate the three pillars of democracy: Parliament, judiciary and the executive. 
  • But apart from being enshrined in the Constitution, the theory of a separation of powers is basic to any democratic society, more than the letter of the Constitution. 
  • But democracies cannot be run only by the laws passed in representative Assemblies rather need conventions too.

Traditions in other democracies:

  • In the United States, the President has the power to appoint judges, although this should be endorsed by Congress. 
  • But the President is directly elected by the people and has prerogatives in several issues which do not apply to a parliamentary democracy. 
  • The Prime Minister-in-cabinet does not have the powers of the U.S. President and hence the possibility of a judicial review to check the suitability or otherwise of the candidates nominated.
  • In the case of the United Kingdom, it is run by time-honored conventions and laws passed by the House of Commons. 
  • It does not have a written Constitution which gives judicial review but strong conventions are in place in spite of the primacy of Parliament. 
  • Even in Parliament, the Speaker of the House of Commons is elected, but becomes a non-party man, choosing when to retire from office.

Centre state relations:

  • The separation of powers acceptable to the Centre is not applied to the States, where an appointed Governor can defy not only the legislature but also the elected government.
  • Ruling parties pushing for greater centralisation not only within constitutional institutions at the Centre but also in States which are ruled by parties other than the national ruling party.
  • This goes against the very dignity of the people of a State as inferior to a higher power outside their State, the constitutional validity of which rightly needs the judiciary as the final judge.


  • Unless conventions are solidified into constituent laws and bound by strong threads, institutions may even be destroyed, endangering the very purpose of a Constitution protecting the citizen.

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